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books

I used to have a wife who nagged me about the stacks of unread books next to my chair where I'd read.

"These books are my friends."

Reading Paul Theroux's The Pillars of Hercules for the first time (really enjoying all his travel books, but for some reason haven't read any of his fiction, somehow worried I won't like them and that'd tarnish my image of his travel books, great curmudgeon) and part of his Sicily story:




He sat, surrounded by books, looking harassed, as though inspiration had just deserted him, or he had momentarily mislaid his lyric gift. He kept his hat on, as though it was his badge of authorship if not part of his uniform and he amazed me with his pedantry.

I said, "So many books, doctor."

"This is not many, " he said, dismissing my question. "I own lots more than these."

"What sort of books are they?"

"They are not books." He smiled at my ignorance.

"What are they?"

"They are my friends."

To him this sort of excruciating exchange was sheer poetry.


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